Friday, October 30, 2009

Schadenfreude - Is It Really Wrong?

Because right now, I'm really doing schadenfreude kick.


Because Frank Lembi is having more than a little trouble. The owner of CitiApartments is not having the best of years. Not only are the banks taking over some of his buildings, the city continuing its case against his company for the way it treats the tenants of the buildings, and a new set of lawsuits has been filed because apparently CitiApartments has been failing to return rent deposits (what could be called: stealing).

By the way, I think it should be pointed out that the name CitiApartments apparently is no more. CitiAparmtents has now morphed itself into FirstApartments. Not content to have one new name, they apparently have another name: Urban Pioneer Properties.

Its a new name, but its the same company. Same management.

But now, in addition to all and having to change the letterhead, Mr. Lembi is facing possible criminal charges.

Apparently Mr. Lembi has written a couple of bad checks. The total of those bad checks? $298,500. To a casino.

A court in Nevada has apparently issued a warrant for his arrest. Darn shame it happened to such a nice guy.

Too bad this isn't 40 years ago when the mob still ran the casinos. Then justice might have been more fun in this case.

Alright, enough of the schadenfreude.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Doubel Elimination Madness.. That's Right Its Dancing With The Stars Time

The winnowing begins this week. As Mrs. Angrybell says, "Its about time."

So Mya and Dmitri drew the jitterbug as the lead off dance this week, and Mya seems pissed she fell from the top spot. What did she expect with Dmitri? Really what was the deal with the rboom thing? Too much with the dusting. Len is going to hate that, not going to help withthe goal beign 30. Finally they get into the dance. Nice side by sides. She looks a little flat sometimes in teh dance. Maybe its because she is in her socks. Nice flip, but sMya wasnt' quite on coming out fo it. Mrs. Angrybell is just bored by this dance. I'm underwhelmed as well. I was expecting more, but it wasn't choreographed that way. Shocking, Len hated the opening, and he was right. Good grief, even Carrie Ann is agreeing with the Angrybells, is the end pretty darn nigh? For all that, they get 24? Score inflation mode is turned on this week.

Alright, I must confess, after the first week, I would have thought that MJH would be closer to be going home. However, she's been getting better over the last few weeks. She and Mark drew the waltz this week. I love Shirley Ballas! She reminds me of Grandma Angrybell. Something happened when they went high and tight on the shot, so all I can say is MJH's face screamed mistake. She just does not look comfortable doing this dance. Wow, nice splits from MJH. Mrs. Angrybell thinks she looks stiff and unsure on her feet. She is missing the heel lead on this. Mrs. Angrybell calls "el stinko". I didn't think it was good, but it wasn't the worst thing I've seen in a waltz. And Bruno picked up on it. For the comments that they gave, the 20 was awfully high. Yup, we have score inflation in overdrive tonight.

Now comes the couple that has me the most conflicted. I like Mark, but I can't stand Lacey. Lacey is perhaps the weakest, in my opinion, of the professionals this season. This week they have the jitterbug. Good song. You knwo I can't remember the songs of the last two dances. Lacey;s outfit is kinda of... safe and not in a good way. Mark looks like he is ahving fun. Nice little flip there. Len may not like this so much. At least this dance is much more fun. Mrs. Angrybell thinks this one is a 180 from the Mya routine, lets stand in one place. Too much of that silly lift thing. oops had a little mistkae towards the end with a bad hand grab that lead people to go "where am I suppose to be going". Its not perfect, but it was better than Mya's. Let's see where score inflation takes this one. I think this is a couple of 8s and a 9. They went 26.

Aaron and Karina followed this with the waltz. Aaron needs to cowboy up and stop whining. Mrs. Angrybell thinks he is the Lance Basss of this season, except he hasn't accepted his gray side. This is not a good song (Once, Twice, Three Times a Lady... ugh). Yes, it works well for the waltz, but its a bummer song. However, He looks much more confiident than MJH. However, Mrs. Angrybell does not like velvet jackets. Also, he is having trouble with heel leads through most of the dance. That is affecting the rise and fall. That will hurt him. Len was right about his frame and his posture. Not sure its his best dance. A 25? That's a little too high for that dance.

Anna and Michael Irvin arrived on the backs of the fans to do the waltz. . I'd like to say this now: STOP IT! They do not deserve to be here. Mien Gott there was a heel lead! And Mrs. Angrybell loves to see the feathers flying. Little stumble there, but he is getting some rise and fall off the heel leads he manages occasionally, but its a little uneven. I hate to say this, but this isn't bad. Anna put together a good routine for him. Mrs. Angrybell thinks Anna did this one, she put together a routine that showed off his good side and kept him from being too stiff. What scale is Bruno judging this on? And the lift police is back. Thanks Carrie Ann for focusing on that. Len, once again, is right. Bruno and Carrie Ann are missing the boat on this one. Which pisses me off, because it means that I'll have to listen to more football metaphors from Irvin again next week. 20? Is the fix in here?

Kelly and Louie drew the jitterbug, coming off her sprained ankle. Its amazing how wracked with fear she is. Fun song. Louie is keeping it nice and simple which is helping her, but I like how its getting harder, so tot speak, as it goes. the problem is that there is not a lto of bounce, which may have to do with the ankle problem. SO it ends up being restrained, and at times as if she is walkign through the dnace. This is not ending up good for her. A 20? This would be ok, except they gave the same score to Irvin. Oy.

So its the Dancing Hobbit and Chelsea. Louie Vito is another that I think needs to go home. So tis teh jitterbug. And they drew a good song. But too mch of the opening nonesense. Just get on the Boogie Woogie Choo Choo Train. Alright, its a bit uneven. There are times he looks like he is on the music and is dancing, and there are times I'm wathcing and it looks like he is just walking through it and a little off. This dance looked fun but uneven. Mrs. Angrybell thinks he is not strong enough to be doing these lifts because it looks like he is just barely able to lift Chelsea. Once again, I'm in agreement with Len. Ahh, its nice to see Carrie Ann back to her speaking totally out of her hat. If she took pharmaceuticals, it would be like watching the Gina Gershon character on the episode of Psych with American Duos. Score was, in my opinion, generous. He did drop his partner twice.

Joanna Krupa and Derek waltzed in after this. I'm not Ms. Krupa's biggest supporter, but you gotta give it to her, she does take this seriously. It would look better if she didnt have a look of fear on her face. But Derek seems to be leading her nice, and she is doing the rise and fall well. The frame is a little off, but not too bad. This flows nicely. She did not look comfortable with this dance. The 26 was fair for that dance.

Donny and Kym drew the jitterbug. Donny looks tired and looks like he's been losing a lot of weight in all this. Starts off nice, but it looked there was a little hesitation right before the first choo choo. Loosk fun, looks bouncy. There are some timing problems. He is a little hunched over in this but not too bad. He looks like he is having fun. Looked good. Of the jitterbugs we saw tonight, this fell in the middle. Louie's was the weakest of the men. Mark's was the strongest. This one looked just a little off. A 24 is fair.

Now we have the group mambo tapout thingy. Normally, I'm not in favor of Irvin, but I like his battle plan. Four minutes of mambo. What will happen? Let's go to the Tivo. This does not favor Donny, since he jsut came off the jitterbug. Nice song. The problem with this is that its hard to get alook at whats going on because the camera is focusing on one coupel. Michael and Anna go first. Louie should go next. And he does. Kelly might be going next, though it could also be MJH who looks like she is losing steam. And it is MJH. I really wish they would show more of Donny and Kym, it looks interesting. Kelly finally goes down. I think Mark and Mya are into their loop now. And Mark goes down.I think Derek is getting way into this dance. And with the floor open, Aaron and Karina stayin the corner. And then Donny goes out. Interesting. And then Donny and Derek start to dance. Together. That was weird. Aaron and Karin finally succumb. I think Joanna should take the top spot. Mya and Dmitri have been on what looks like a loop. And Mya goes down. Leaving Joanna and Derek in the top spot. Derek really is a ham.

Joanna Krupa must be exhausted. But damn if she isn't competitive.

Mrs. Angrybell thinks that the Melissa Joan Hart and Louie Vito should go home.

I think the same thing. Michael Irvin did just enough to live to dance another day.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

In Case Anyone Was Worried

If anyone was worried about where to find those "special" pilates instructors, those joyful endings to your massages, have no fear. Craigslist will still be allowed to have an Adult Services section of ads.

A federal court judge dismissed a suit against Craigslist file by Cook County, Chicago. The judge found that some of the services offered were, or could be, legal. What's more, the court found that there might even be some First Amendment protections for the advertisements.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Not that anyone actually listens to Israel's defense

But this is a guy who knows a thing or two about fighting around civillians...and terrorists.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

So My Judgement Has Been Called Into Question

One of my visitors left a comment taking issue with my critique of the dance done by Donny and Kym last night on Dancing with the stars. They said it was perfect. Here is what an Argentine tango looks like when it is damn near perfect (at least for Dancing with The Stars).

Now here is Donny and Kym's dance from last night.

There is a difference. Everyone is, of course, entitled to their opinion.

So Maybe I'm A Little Angry

But you might have guessed that from the email.

What I would like to know is, how the hell the real estate agents in this town have any self-respect left. Seriously, I have either bought or helped buy property in different parts of the state and country. I have worked with some good real estate agents. But by and large, my experience with San Francisco real estate agents has uniformly been bad.

To start with, do any of them actually listen to their clients? I realize that all of them are on commission. I realize that they make more money the more I and Mrs. Angrybell spend. But when we tell them that X is our limit, why is it that they all start with houses that are at least half million more than what we can or are willing to spend on a property.

Is it that all the real estate agents are under the impression that everyone has the ability to get 2 million dollar mortgages? Or if we can, to actually be able to afford them?

Then we get to what they actually do. Other than managing to fill out form wrong three times every time we make an offer, I'm still trying to figure it out. Most of what they traditionally do has been taken over by the internet. The San Francisco MLS seems to have every listing that is out there. At least, I have yet to be surprised with a listing by any agent that I've worked with to date.

None of them seem to have any idea of what makes a comparable. When I ask for them, I am deluged with every building in the entire city that has an equivalent number of bedrooms. Does not really matter that the city has multiple neighborhoods. From what it looks like, the only thing that I have not seen a comparable on to a mid-Sunset house is something in either North Beach or Hunters Point.

Do they even see the houses before I do? No. That's because, conveniently, brokers tours are Tuesdays. That would be after the house has first had its open house.

So let's see. The house buyer finds the house. Sees it first. And then gets next to nothing as far as guidance when it comes to making an offer. I'm sorry, thats not entirely accurate. The guidance when it comes to making an offer, in my experience, is always to bid higher. Never at the asking price. Never below the asking price (even when the place is a dump with black mold on every wall, floors that have been damaged to the point that they will have to be ripped up, and materials that are more likely than not asbestos tiles that are flaking - which if you want mesothelioma is a good thing.) Its as if there is collusion going on. Of course, I can't say that there is, because I don't have proof. But the way that they structure the bidding process makes its very interesting. Its as if they have an agreement that they will always turn everything into an auction in this town.

In addition to that, they all participate in what I would characterize as deceptive practices. Too many of the listings I've seen show the number of bedrooms as being higher than they have permits for. That's nice, because insurance companies do not exactly love unpermitted rooms. And too many of the ones I've seen have "bedrooms" that are unpermitted garage conversions that wouldn't last a second if a DBI inspector ever saw them.

That's another thing. Why isn't DBI enforcing the code? I mean the advertisements for the houses practically flaunt that they are doing illegal, unpermitted work on homes in San Francisco. And yet it does not appear that they are citing any of them. Even though the legalization process would bring in revenue for the city. Does not look like the San Francisco City Attorney is doing anything about it either. I guess he is more focused on other things.

Yeah maybe this is just sour grapes. But what I see is making me angry. I see agents just collecting a check for doing jack diddle nothing. Yes, when they sell a house they do some work. Although from what I've seen in my dealings with them on that end in this city, its not much better. A little, but not much.

Of course, they are aided in all this by a bunch of really stupid buyers. I mean, yes, people need homes. But why is it everyone is happy to pay such ridiculous prices. To take on mortgages that put them right at the edge of federal guidelines.

This whole system has learned, it seems, absolutely nothing from the housing bubble of last year.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Madness Continues... (DWTS Recap)

Let's start off with this. What they hell did they do to poor Samantha Harris' hair? I mean, does someone in hair and makeup hate her so much that they would do that to her? It's like the revenge of the 80's big hair. Mrs. Angrybell called it a crime against a curling iron.

Also, the other question this week is whether Maksim will be the downfall of Joana Krupa. Derek's out with the flu. Maksim is a great dancer. His problem is he peacock in the worst sense when it comes to showcasing himself over his partners.

Natalie and Alec drew the honors of leading off this week, dancing the paso doble. American woman is the song, which is why she is in that particular outfit. The problem is, this is not a great song for this. She looked pretty good in the begining. but its lacking something and I cannot put my finger on it. And then she gets off just a little when they got in the corner away from the judges. Then it got almost robotic. I'm not sure that Alec made the best use of what he had there. Carrie Ann, of course, calls anything she can a lift. What a crock. Len and Bruno had some good points. The 22 was fair. The dance had problems.

Aaron and Karina Argentine tangoed next. I love the line from Karina about her being a "cold blooded bitch". Nice song. Works well with the costumes. He is not being aggressive enough in some of his steps I thnk. But he has the look down inhis face. The more it goes, the better he is getting. That kneel at the end was a little weird, but otehrwise, I think he did a good job. Mrs. Angrybell said "Poor little thing, he looks afraid, he's been abused by the judges." Nice to see some strokes from the judge as opposed to all the whacks he's been taking. Even Len had some nice things to say. I'd say it was a 9. The judges gave him 8s. Good improvement for him.

Anna and Michael followed that up with the paso. Have to say, Anna looks good with the dark hair. Great song. Face looks determined, but his feet arent hitting like I think they should. Good posture. Now he's stepping like he should. Not the best cape work on DWTS but pretty good. I like how he flung her away. Thankfully, while the comments were over the top, the scores were right on.

Mya and Dmitri drew the Argentine tango. Not a song (so sorry by Jem)I would think was a tango. Mya is just impressive to watch. Not much else to say. Its just a damn shame that she has Dmitri as her partner. I have no idea what Carrie Ann was talking about with the lack of emotional connection. Was she watching the same dance? The 27 was right on.

Lacey and Mark Dascassos pulled on some weird costumes for the paso doble. Let's see if Lacey's gamble paid off? Mrs. Angrybell says "Holy Sh*t, she looks like Nelix from Voyager! Where's Captain Janeway?"This starts off looking light years better than Michale's. He has the look, his steps look forceful. That was an impressive move that he did. Little flip thing. Wow. Then Lacey comes back and they finsih the dance. The costumes.... were just ridiculous. That color didn't suit him. Carrie Ann was right, he hit the power and didn't make it looks it was forced. What's going on? I'm agreeing with Carrie Ann? Yikes! Alright the scores were the best of the night so far for a paso, but Bruno went and screwed it up with an 8. Still the 26 was pretty good.

Donny and Kym were up next with the Argentine tango. Let's see how the father of five does with this. First thign, he needs to stop looking down in teh beinging. Kym looks like she is wearing a lamp shade and a bead spread. They drew a good song. Some of Donny's steps don't look like they are hitting right, as in I think some are going toe lead when they should be heel. But then he starts to pull it together. Nice kicks and flicks. I liked it, but there was something missing from it that I cannot put my finger on. I love how Donny plays off Bruno. They took each other there. Anyways, at least they did not kiss tonight. Thankfully, Len resisted the urge to pull out the 10 paddle, giving them a 29. It was a good dance, it was just missing that last little bit.

Chelsea and Louie Vito danced the argentine tango after that. Mrs. Angrybell wants to wash Louie's hair. They've brought out props, that sometimes backfires. It starts off looking like she is trying to hide Louie on the chair. Which in that dress, is not a bad idea for Chelsea. This dance almost looks like it suits Louie. He has the right look on his face and he is moving somewhat like he should. Could possibly be Louie's best dance. What the hell? Len liked the prop? Usually its the kiss of death. But they are all catching on that he is stepping, not dancing. 23 was a nice score.

Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Sabrina the Cheetah Girls' ex-boy friend danced the Argentine tango. Lot of that tonight. Apparently Mark, apparently, was sick this week. It was interesting listening to Anna talk about Melissa Joan Hart's chances. She is stepping this dance. At least at the start. And she is pulling away a little bit. Thought it might have to do with Marks' red spats. There is a lack of fluidity when it should be there (yes I know this dance has a lot fo staccato in it, but when she does the kneels against him, they look staccato and thats not how its supposed to go). And then she got tangled up in the kicks and that threw her a bit. Fortunately, she tangos on. Surprisingly flexible. The score of 23 was fair. This routine had a number of flaws.

Kelly and Louis Van Amstel were up next. I love her reaction to when she realized she was the cape and not a bull. Dancing to Crazy Train. Now I understand Louis eye makeup. She looks a little off but she's passing it off ok. Keeping in character and now back in with Louis. She got a little lost going through that series of underarm turns. Lost a little of the intensity but then it starts to come back as the song hits the end. Uneven dance. Good. But not great. I liked it better than Natalie's. The way things have gone tonight, it should be 8s. And it was 24.

Joanna and Maksim were dancing the Argentine tango. Apparently Derek's topless foray got him the flu. Referring to Maksim as the savior? Has she watched the show before? Thankfully, Maksim will be keeping his shirt on. Whatever Lola wants, nice choice of song. There was a little trip there, and it wasn't by the amateur, btu the pro. Mrs Angrybell wants to know if that was a mistake or intended. I think it was an accident. Most of that routine was great. Somehow Maksim restrained his natural impulse to show himself off and let her look really good. I love how she put the blame where it belonged: with Maksim. He stumbled. The 8s were unfair. I think that dance was as good as Mya's wth the exception of the stumble.

Then there was the group hustle. The outfits for this were just scary.

Alright, this is a bit of surprise to me. Natalie is as vulnerable as Michael. This is weird. In past seasons, the deeper into the competition it gets, the more likely that one of the atheletes has improved. Natalie has not really improved that much. She has had some marginal improvements but she is still being held back a bit. And then there was her performance in the group hustle. She seemed like she just wanted to eb doing someothign other than competing there. Michael Irvin on the other hand is just hanging on for dear life there. For some reason teh fans keep bring him back.

Now the other person who should be vulnerable based solely on his score is Louie Vito. The only problem is that this week, he turned in a decent performance. So I'm not sure he should be going home.

The middle of the pack is who you would expect. There is Aaron Carter and Melissa Joan Hart. They're performances have been kind of bland. They have moments of doing well, but at the end of the day, neither has really shown that they are deserving of being in the final.

The ones who have a shot at the mirror ball trophy, in my opinion are: Mark Dascassos, Donny Osmond, Mya, and Joanna Krupa (yeah, I'm surprised to be writing that). The dark horse at this point: Kelly Osbourne.

This is a crazy season.

Friday, October 16, 2009

From Mrs. Angrybell to the Hon. Sofie Allsopp

At the request of Mrs. Angrybell, a plea is being made to Sofie Allsopp. Sofie, please, please, go back to your old style. The new one makes you look like some demented Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. Did some focus group tell you that this look (seen below)

is not a good one? Mrs. Angrybell begs you to give up on the Dorothy-esque hairstyle and go back to your previous one. It looked so much better. And also that red that you've started to use for your lipstick makes you look like a mortician got to you. It does not fit your coloring. Your old style, with the pink color and gloss, made your lips look lovely.

Can someone please tell this guy it is 2009, not 1967?

It was reported today that there is a justice of the peace by the name of Keith Bardwell in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana. He has been the justice of peace in the parish for about 2.5 years.

Now for those who don't know, a justice of a peace is a type of judge. It used to be the justices of peace (or JPs) would handle a lot of the smaller matters (traffic fines, small claims cases etc) while bigger matters would go to the municipal or superior courts. This has been changing, with some states no longer having JPs. In Louisiana, they are still used and are a part of the Louisiana judicial system. They also have the ability to marry people.

Well, Mr. Bardwell is a JP. He will marry all the people he is legally allowed to marry, except for one class. He will not marry, or issue a marriage license, to interracial couples.

He says its for the good of their unborn children. Yes, that is his reason. Even though he says he is not racist. Mr. Bardwell insists he treats everyone the same, just that he does not think it is right for a black person to marry a white person. Says he believes that those marriages never work.

So nice for a government official to decide what is right in a person's private life. Isn't it?

Has this person never heard of a case calling Loving v. Virginia?

Yes, one of the couples he has denied a marriage license to is trying to get the Department of Justice to sue. I wonder, whats the likelihood of that happening now that the Attorney General has called Americans cowards for not dealing with the question of race?

At least the school board down there must be breathing a sigh of relief. They've already been seven times.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Health Care Reform Is Coming... But Should We Let It?

Ok, let's start with a couple of basics. Health care in America is a bit screwed up right now. We pay a lot. We get alot. But we pay alot. And in having to pay a lot, there are a lot of people who do not have health care covered.

And this is bad. Because if they cannot pay for health care, then we have sick people. Sick people go to the county ER instead of their own physician. The county hospital then has to hope to be reimbursed for all the work that gets done, or to try and recover the money from the person (who is probably too well off to be covered by a government program but not well off enough to afford health insurance). If they can't get paid, then the hospital loses money, has to lay off doctors and nurses and other people do not get treatment.

Sure that is over simplifying things, but its a fair description of the problem.

Then there are the solutions that are proposed. Some say its all the fault of the greedy insurance companies. If it was not for their overriding need to make a profit, then costs would be manageable. The insurance industry lashes back by blaming the lawyers. If it wasn't for the lawyers filing all those "frivolous" medical malpractice suits, then things would not cost so much. Some people say its the doctors fault for charging so much. The doctors point out that they have to because, well, hey, they've got bills to pay and medical malpractice premiums to boot.

And then George Bush opens his mouth about the problem and says:

But back to the actual problem.

Today, there was a vote in the Senate. Specifically, it was a vote in the Senate Finance Committee on what has become known as the Baucus Bill. Actually, its called "America’s Healthy Future Act of 2009". The bill is the Democrats answer to the problem. (As a side note, I want to know why, after 8 years in opposition, it took them until September to actually get a bill together?)

Senator Baucus has stated that this proposal is the solution for our problems. He states that the plan will pay for itself. He states that the plan will lower costs and not add to the federal deficit, and that it will encourage competition in the market place.

A lot of hardcore left wingers are not happy with this plan. They see the only solution as being single-payer health care. Now there are advantages to this idea. However, there are perils. And significant costs. Remember, nothing is for free. If we make it another entitlement, then its going to be reflected in our taxes. And once that money gets purposed and set into the federal code, its may never be changed. Don't think so? Remember, we are still paying an emergency tax on our telephone usage. The emergency that the tax was meant to fund? That would be the Spanish-American War, which happened in 1898.

Anyways, the Baucus plan. The Baucus plan has some features that are really good. However, ti also has some really bad things that almost amount to a poison pill.

The good:
Healthcare cooperatives. The Baucus bill will provide that member owned insurance cooperatives can be formed. These will be non-profits which will compete with the insurance companies, hopefully being able to provide comparable services in order to bring the cost down.

The not so good:
Individual mandates. If you do not have healthcare, you will be subject to a fine. Great. So now in addition to being required to have all sorts of other required things (driver's license, car insurance, etc), we will now how have to show proof of insurance. I can see how soon someone will propose a national ID card as cost-cutting means, since it will contain all this information about us that we are required to have anyways. There is also the idea that there might be criminal penalties involved. Sorry, every so often, I get a little paranoid about Big Brother.

Subsidy for those who are deemed to be too poor to afford insurance. Under the Baucus plan, anyone who falls under certain guidelines (an income that it under three times the Federal poverty level) will have access to subsidized plans. Apparently, this means that families of four making less than $661,150 per year will have their health care subsidized. It should probably be noted that the median income for a family of four in the U.S. is about $70,354. In California, the median is $
74,801. To me, that seems like an awful lot of people who are going to be getting subsidized health care. Sounds very expensive.

The pre-existing conditions provisions, as I read them, are good and bad. The good part is that those with pre-existing conditions will be able to get coverage. The bad is that it seems to segregate them into a special risk pool. Combined with the individual mandate, this could make things difficult.

The absurd:
According to the Baucus plan, illegal aliens will not be able to participate in this program. That's going to be interesting to enforce, especially in light of the Supreme Court's prior rulings on the subject of what happens when there is a program that the illegal alien would be otherwise entitled.

The bad:
Now some of you may remember that during the election, Senator McCain had a health care reform proposal. (Yes, he had one. Actually fairly fleshed out instead of President Obama's "I'd like to see ...") was to tax health care benefits for employer provided health care plans. Currently, they are not taxed, even though they are a benefit (something that IRS likes to call "income", and income is taxable). Under the McCain plan, the tax was balanced by an equal tax write-off for paying for a personal health care plan. Ideally, under Senator McCain's plan, you would have a net zero effect. At least, that was how it was explained to me.

The problem with Senator McCain's plan was that it did nothing to deal with the issue of pre-existing conditions. As it stands right now, if you have a preexisting condition, it damned near impossible to get individual coverage. Believe me. I have tried (and my "condition" was resolved over 10 years ago. Yet despite the fact that it is resolved, as in will never come back, I still get rejected by insurance companies when I try to buy individual insurance.).

Well now with the Baucus plan, we see that so-called "Cadillac" plans will be taxed. Let's take a step back and look at the absurdity of calling it a "Cadillac". How many people under the age of, say, 55, look at the Cadillac as the pinacle of luxury autos anymore?

Now a Cadillac plan, under the Baucus plan it is defined in Title VI "Excise Tax on High Cost Insurance", is defined as any plan that goes over $8,000 per year per person or $21,000 per year for a family. The tax would be 35 percent on anything over that. That's a pretty heft tax, one that the Senate committee is hoping will bring in a whopping $215 billion.

To me, this seems a little on the insane side of things. It is actually penalizing people for getting good health care plans. It also has no corresponding reward, other than not being taxed, for getting mediocre ones.

There is also the argument that the excise tax is going to become an AMT. The AMT, or Alternative Minimum Tax, was a tax originally designed to correct a loophole in the law which allowed extraordinarily wealthy people to escape paying income tax. In the beginning, it worked fine. However, with neglect, it has become a tax that is becoming increasingly burdensome on people are not extraordinarily wealthy, and are in fact, really just upper middle class.

In the same way, as the cost of the low end Baucus plan packages rise, middle class income families could find themselves on the receiving end of the excise tax. Seems like there is a flaw in the plan.

Then there is the idea that Medicare will come down, and that those savings will be used to fund the plan. That seems, to me, the least likely since it requires that an entitlement be cut.

Bottom line is this: this is an expensive plan. It requires that the health care exchanges get up and running in order to keep the consumer costs down. If they don't, and instead end up as not for profits, then there is not going to be any real savings in all of this. I am really uncomfortable with taxing people for getting good health care plans. I'm also a little upset with how many people we will end up subsidizing.

Then again, its not like the Republican party has offered anything other than "let the market run free" and "its all the lawyers fault".

At the bottom of it all, this bill is clearly a compromise. It is going to cost a lot of money. Under the Congressional Budget Office's scoring, which is a precise rule driven evaluation, thinks that the bill will help to reduce the federal deficit and cut the number of uninsured. However, others have criticized the CBO's numbers because of what they are not allowed to consider when doing the report on the bill. First, there is the problem that the bill will put the onus on the states to come up with some of the money. This in turn could lead to higher state taxes. It allows President Obama to keep his word not to personally raise taxes, instead leaving that bit to the legislatures of the states. Second, there is no accounting for the actual administrative cost of the plan. Third, there is little thought as to what the cost will be once people actually have health insurance, as in how much will the subsidies need to be increased in order to keep pace with a potential upswing in medical procedures.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Madness Time Is Upon On Us... And This Time Its The Forbidden Dance! (Dancing With The Stars Time)

So Angrybabybelle really wanted to watch tonight. Which is not good. She's tiny and needs to sleep.

But on to the dances.

First up is Chuck and Anna doing the Two Steps. At they looked like they were having fun in training. Mrs Angrybell is firghtened by the outfit.. and the rope. Len will hate the opening bit. I know nothing about this dance. But at least he looks like he is having fun, even if he is not synch all the time with. Mrs. Angrybell thinks that Anna looks like a "lady of the evening or whatever they called them back then". Nice lifts, but he looks a little unsure where his hand should be on the turns. So that's a two-step? I like how Bruno called it "Carnage and mayhem" that still managed to look like a two-step. They earned a 17, and Len seemed a little too harsh there.

Melissa Joan Hart and Mark Ballas got to do the Charleston. Another dance, I'm only vaguely familiar with. Mrs. Angrybell just doesn't think she is a dancer, even though she is talented in other ways. The intro was a bit too long but she looked good in teh open. Nice little tongue in cheek coming down the stairs. When she thinks, she gets off a little. When she just gos with it, she is doing much better. She had a little bit of a flub when they went into hold at the end. I'm not sure if she was doing the right steps, but it looked liek an error. Mrs. Angrybell thinks she should get an 8. I'm thinking 7. Bruno loved it. Cary Anne said nothing comprehensible again. Len actually liked it saying "they ticked all the boxes". Wow, a 28. That I did not expect for them, but I almost think it had to do with the fact that they showed so much improvement.

Natalie Coughlin and Alec Mazzo came up with a bolero. Interesting, he offered an easy and a hard option. I would have taken easy and done it really well. The question is, what did she do. Well, she took the clothes from Edyta's closet this week. Wow, nice splits. Wow agian with the split and spin. Mrs Angrybell thinks this is her best dance so far. She is using her lines, and its not looking stiff like some other dances. The end, looked a little off, but otherwise a really good fluid routine. What is Cary Anne smoking? Other than the end, it looked so fluid. The 8s were about right, tho still surprising its going to put her behind MJH. And she does not look happy with her scores.

Aaron and someone with bad blonde hair. Is that Karina? Please, go back to being a brunette. And tonight, they got to do the forbidden dance. Nice opening with that sommersault. Yeah I have no idea how this dance is supposed to go. But he is at least selling that he knows. Mrs. Angrybell thinks he is gay and needs to come out of the cloest. Nice workign of the hips. There was a little trip up with one of spins and then the spin did not go as well as planned. But it was a good try. Len and Mrs. Angrybell agree that the rhythm was off. Cary Anne is just being mean to him tonight, and I don't like him. The 18 seemed a little harsh. Then again, like Len said, not raunch. Thank G-d no crying.

Mark Dascassos and Lacey Schwimmer were given the two-step this week. Mrs Angrybell saw the set up and felt bad for Mark. Its clear that Mark has little country in him. But at least he is making an attempt. The turns they did looked a lot better than the ones that Chuck did. And I think he actually looks better when in open than he does when he is in hold with her. Mrs. Angrybell thinks that all of Lacey's dances look the same, like she has one set of moves that she just fits into each style. I think that Mark might be close enough to lead, but Lacey wants to back lead the whole time. An 8 and two 7s for a 22. At least it showed they appreciated that it was an improvement over Chuck and Anna's.

Another Charleston was up next, this time Kelly and Louis. Interesting makeup for Louis. Looks nice but she needs to stop lookign down. Oops, she started thinking and its hurting her again. But she recovers. Not enough bounce in the hold. I have a feeling this will be one of Len's "Its a bit of a muddle" followed by a lot of boos. But it was. There were times when she looked like she was on. Then there were times when she started to think and would get off a little. 23. Bout where it should have been. Who knew Samantha Harris was on Broadway?

Joanna and Derek drew the lambada. At least Derek is honest this week, he does have a great job. Derek shirtless is not something I want to see again. Either that or he needs to get to the gym more often and lift. Mrs Angrybell wonders why he couldnt borrow Dmitri's see through shirt. Little more raunch in this one, but still kind of safe and tame. Until that thing where she grinded her way up the body. Mrs. Angrybell thinks Joanna is like a poor woman's Brooke Burke, a model who can dance. 26 for the score.

Donny and Kym were following that. I like how its raunch and then the Mormon dancing the Charleston. This is a fun looking charleston. Nice open routines they did there, it all looked in synch. Mrs. Angrybell thinks that the choreography is what relaly sets this apart. Donny is hititng the marks she lays otu, but she';s put something to gether that meets his level. A couple of little things wrong, little misses but nothign that took them out. Mrs. Angrybell really liked it, good choreopgraphy, good execution, good outfits, she gives it a 10. I'd give it a 9. He got hosed with those straight 8's. Should have had a couple of 9s in there. Mrs. Angrybell says "Vote for Donny this week, they got hosed this week."

Michael Irvin and Anna drew the bolero. The way I look at it, he is 4 and long here. His dances have not been going well. He was in the bottom two last week. If this one isn't good, he should be the next to go home. Starts off like he wants to stay. His posture looks a little off at times, like he is hunching instead of bending. And he loses the character in the dance, smiling when he should be smoldering. Part of it is that he not helped by the song. Its not good for him or this dance I think. When he moves, it slike he is walking, not dancing. And yes, they did pick up on the fact that Anna hid his problems by keeping him stationary as much as possible. Ouch from Bruno's comment equating him to the economy. Well the 16 is an improvement from last week. I don't think its going to be a keeping score.

Chelsea and Louis Vito. And they get to do the two step. I like how she said he looks like a girl. Ty might be the only one who can help him. Louis "Mini-Ty with Long Hair" Vito. Doesnt have a ring to it. They got a good song. Too bad he is so nervous doing this dance. Chelsea loks good, he looks, like he is hoping not to trip her up. I like Len's description, it was close to what I'm thinking "a series of walks and then Chelsea did something." MRs. Angrybell agreed with Carrie Ann, he got good stuff and did nothing with it. The 16 was generous.

Mya and Dmitri doing the lambada. I am still waiting for Dimitri to implode and take Mya with him. Mrs. Angrybell wants to know if they could be any more oiled up. GOod song and they seem to be working it. Good thing this was after 9 pm, otherwise, Stands and Practices might have a problem with it. Started off well, but then it seemed lose a little of the steaminess at the end. Thankfully, Len threw the 8. It wasn't a perfect dance. Mrs. Angrybell doesn't think Len likes Dimitri. She also thinks that he has a separate standard for Mya, because he thinks she can actually dance as opposed to a lot of the others.

Overall, no real change. Mya and Dmitri have become the favorites of the men with Natalie trying to overhaul her. In the men, its Donny and Kym, with Mark trying to catch them. Michael Irvin or Louis Vito should be the one going home tomorrow.

Friday, October 09, 2009

What were the people in Oslo thinking?

Somehow, President Obama has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. I'm sitting here trying to fathom why he, of all people, would get it.

Has he ended a war? Nope.

Has he succeeded in bringing together a consensus among nations to do something that improve the chances for peace? Nope.

Has he managed to bring together two sides of a contentious issue and broker peace agreement between them? He can't even do that with his own party.

So what has he done that rates this? Apparently the rationale is that he has done something to ease tension in the Muslim world and stressed diplomacy over unilateralism. Let's take a look at what the previous winners of the Nobel Peace Prize have done.

2008 - Martti Ahtisaari (Worked to achieve peace in Indonesia, Kosovo, and Iraq)
2007 - Al Gore and UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Ok, that's another head scratcher to me)
2006 - Grameen Bank and Muhammed Yunus (for micro-lending. Makes sense actually. People are less likely to want to destroy things if they have access to money so that they can create a better life for themselves.)
2005 - IAEA and Mohammed El Baradei (another head scratcher but even then they sort of try to, ineffectively, keep the lid on the spread of nuclear weapons)
2004 - Wangari Maathai (for sustainable development)
2003 - Shiri Ebadi (for trying to help extend the rule of law in the Muslim world)
2002 - Jimmy Carter
2001 - Kofi Anan and the United Nations (for trying to make the world more peaceful)
2000 - Kim Dae Jung (for helping to improve relations between North and South Korea. Harder than you'd think)
1999 - Medicins Sans Frontiers (self-explanatory and probably the most deserving of the last 10 years even if I think they actually help extend the suffering. But that's a post for another time.)
1998 - David Trimble and John Hume (for brokering the Northern Ireland peace accords.)
1997 - International Campaign to Ban Landmines and Jody Williams (Don't necessarily agree with them, but again, they did help to bring about a ban on landmines.)
1996 - Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo and José Manuel Ramos-Horta (for brokering a peace agreement in East Timor).
For a complete list, take a look at the wiki list.

By the way, the last time a sitting President of the United States was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, it was 1919, the president was Woodrow Wilson, who had just help found the League of Nations in an attempt to prevent further warfare. Before that, it was 1906 and the president was Theodore Roosevelt. He brokered the Treaty of Portsmouth which ended the Russo-Japanese War.

So what did President Obama do? The statement says "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples." What efforts? Apparently in his case, its enough to shake hands with some dictators, ignore the civil rights abuses of in some other nations, favor those who seek to usurp democractically developed constitutions, and indicate that abandoning those who have taken great risks to support you and your country is now all that is necessary to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Alfred Nobel is rolling in his grave.

In my opinion, the people in Oslo should have given no award this year. That would have been a profound statement, even if they did not explain it.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Its so not funny... because its almost true

The one thing the Obama Administration has managed to do domestically is to expand the Federal government's deficit to a level never before reached in peacetime. In the international arena, he has managed to alienate Poland and the Czech Republic, two countries which risked a lot to back us under Bush. I guess consulting with allies is not something he wanted to do.

I mean, after all he was having too much "success" wooing Iran away from developing nuclear weapons and getting Hugo Chavez to respect democratic rights and the sovereignty of other nations. Then again, perhaps it was because he was currying favor with terror supporting regimes while publicly undercutting the troops he is directly responsible for in Afghanistan.

Or maybe it was his decision to support an ousted president, seeking to become a dictator, rather than the democratically elected legislature which followed their flawed constitution as best they could. (I mean really, when you draft your constitution, always put in the procedure for how you depose your criminal head's of state and government).

Ahh yes. Change we can believe in has arrived. President Obama has made sure of that. Instead of bungling opportunities while striving for a more free, more democratic world, he has decided to embrace dictators, oligarchs (that's right Putin), and exporters or violence. I can hardly wait to see what he is unable to do next.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Yes, Its Monday Madness (Dancing with The Stars)

Batting lead off tonight was Mark and Lacey. I have to say this again: I do not like Lacey and Mrs. Angrybell really does not like her. Doing the rumba. Not a great song. Some hip movement, but doesn't look like this is in his wheelhouse. Mrs. Angrybell "The 80's called they want the outfit back". The longer he goes into this dance, the more he is losing his hip action and the more he is losing his fluidity. Mrs. Angrybell said "This is the rhumba right? Isn't it supposed to be sexy?" I agree. A surpisingly ungrumpy Len, what happened to him in the week off? And Carrie Ann giving something other than an Abdul-esque commentary, what???!?? I want my judges back! The 6's were dead on. They have replaced the judges with dopplegangers!

Mrs. Angrybell had this to say about Samantha Harris: "The wardrobe department hates Samantha Harris, they put her in Mr. T's Jewelry."

Joanna and Derek then sambaed into my living room. And it made Angrybabybelle cry. Actually she just woke up, but anyways. It looks so tenative on her part. Derek is looking too good, while Joana is looking like she isn't sure what she wants to do. Mrs. Angrybell thinks that she is not very refined in her movements, and needs precision with her steps. What dance was Bruno watching? Huh? Len what are you saying? Were you watching the bloody dance!?!? Is the fix suddenly in here? Or am I just a curmudgeon? An 8 from Len? Who is that man? The 7 was more like it. Still, a 23... I dunno about that one.

Mya and Dmitir were up next. They got a better song for the rumba, even if I don't like it. Ooh lift. Needs to work on her hip s a bit, but it looks better than other one. Mrs. Angrybell thinks that Dmitri needs to put on some clothes, she isn't likeing what she is seeing of Dmitri. So it was better than Mark's, but I'm not sure it was that good. Bruno drank the kool-aid on this one. What is going on with this? Is it protect the women night? A 10? for real? Something is out of whack here. 27 is way, way to inflated!

MJH and Mark were on the floor following that travesty of judging to do the samba. MRs. Angrybell thinks that Mark needs a hair cut. They got a fun song. She needs to swmile a bit more. Her feet look like they are going where they should be. As she goes on, I think she is getting better. Althougth in that open bit she looked off and lost. The 19 was fair.

Louie and Vito are next on the chopping block. With his hair done, he looks completely different. He was enjoying the rumba practice a little too much. MRs. Angrybell thinks he loosk nervous. Well they did get the best rumba song so far tonight. They put her in almost nothing. Mrs. Angrybell thinks she is wearing a band-aid for a skirt. Very little hip movement, but he is working the sensual angle. Mrs. Angrybell is not sure, she thinks it might have been his best dance, but isn't sure because she is so stunned by Chelsea's outfit. I think Chelsea raided Edyta's closet. Len was right, Chelsea was hiding the fact that he couldn't move his hips. Odd, Bruno and I agreed. Len was out of his mind with a 5. The 20 was the right score but they got to it in a weird way.

Debbie Mazar and Maksim were hoping to improve on last week's tango. It was nice to Mel B back. I miss her. She could put Maksim in his place. This samba ... starts off with the stuff with Len hates. But Mrs Angrybell thinks she is hanging on for dear life in this dance. The start of the dance was this nice series of basic stuff, but after the turns around the floor, she seemed to lose it. I'm not sure what went wrong, but something went wrong. It was nice. And that was the problem. It was just nice. And Bruno pointed out what she missed. A 17, considering how it looked...

And then Samantha makes a dig on Len's scoring. Mrs. Angrybell says, "Careful Samantha, he'll have wardrobe put you in something worse!"

Donny and Kym rumba. Interesting giving him the solo. He tried to move those whitebread hips. They are having some problem with fluidity early on. Not much in the way of hip movement, and he looks like he is reaching for her, like he is a little behind on things. When they got back to the center, suddenly things started to look better. Started off shaky, improved. "Donny Osmond just crossed over to the Castro!" according to Mrs. Angrybell. 21 was right. It was good, but

About Samantha's comment to Donny, that he should have given Bruno some tongue, Mrs. Angrybell declared, "Best comment Samantha Harris ever gave!"

Anna and Michael Irvin, doing the Samba. This is lookign good for her. Not so good for him. He's having too much fun. Maybe that's a little harsh, but to me it looks more like he walkign through most of it. Where is the bounce from him? Mrs. Angrybell thinks, that while it was one of his better dances, he is limited in what he can do. The 14 was harsh, but deserved. Where is the love for the guys?

Let's see what Natalie can do this week. I expected more from her, but so far, I'm not seeing any of it. Natalie doing the rumba is going to be hard. Natalie needs to channel her inner Edyta. I was wrong, Natalie raided Edyta's closet. She is holding her breathe, at least early in the dance. Hip movement is limited but getting better as the dance progresses. Mrs. Angrybell thinks that Natalie was wearing a beadsheet and a clamshell. It was good, not great. Natalie get's saved by her body looking so good when she goes into a slow movement. The judges' ... have lost their sense of proportion with their comments. That was not a 9 dance. Argh!!! They've been told to get the women through this week. A 26 is too high for that dance.

Guess I have to be nice, or this next couple will hurt me. Its Chuck and Anna. Doing the samba. Can this guy be light on his feet? That outfit for him... Whoa! Mrs. Angrybell is speechless. This looks much better than Irving's. It doesn't look natural, but at least there is some flow and some bounce to it. And then he goes flat at the end. Personally, I think it was his best dance so far. They got a 17. Personally, I think Len was a little too harsh there.

Aaron and Karina were dancing the rumba this week. Something looks wrong with Karina. She looks... off. Mrs. Angrybell thinks its her hair change. Who picked out his outfit? Why is he wearing pajamas? Do they think that the Hefner look is in? Little stumble after the spin, not good. His foot work is good, but he is int committing to get the hip action fully there. Mrs. Angrybell thinks that he reminds her of Randy Disher from Monk. Not good. Not bad, but not good. And Len is back, first use of "Lack of musicality" tonight! I feel ebtter. Bruno got the right number. The 21 was what I thought it should be.

Cheryl and Tom limped out. Mrs. Angrybell, a GOP member, said of the outfits "That outfit is the bomb". The man has 2 stress fractures. This ... is going to get ugly I think. He is coutning out loud. Ok, there is alack of bounce, we knew that. However, he is in time with the music and it looks not half bad. I like how its "Why can't we be friends" and she is wearing the donkey on her outfit. It was nice that he tried to bribe the audience. All in all, it was basic and clean. I liked what it was, but it wasn't enough. Mrs. Angrybell says "The shirt is the bombo. The man is epic". It was a 15. It was fair. Please, send him home.

Now we get to who I've been waiting for: Kelly and Louis. Interesting makeup. Mrs. Angrybell thinks she looks like a demented 50's housewife. Batting clean up with a samba. They got an interesting song. She is having fun doing this. The song doesn't work so well for this dance, but they are doing a good job. She is doing well, but her arms need work. Her feet and bounce look right, or close to it. I liked it. The judges were right: when she is on, she is on; when she starts to think, she loses it. The scores were a little low. Should have been in the 21 to 24 range.

Ok, this week is in an easy one: send hom Tom DeLay. He's injured. He needs to go home.

As for the rest... Michael is looking very vulnerable. He wants to stay, he needs to do something quick.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Wow... I just can't believe that one

So you are a petty tin-pot dictator in training. You're trying to overthrow your country's constitution, which clearly says that you only get one term in office, so that you can serve indefinitely. The legislature, the army, and the judiciary all take a stand against you and force you from office.

Then, after you've been stripped of your citizenship (also in the constitution of your country), you sneak back into the country and hide out in a foreign embassy. You don't seek asylum, but you also urge a revolution in your country.

And when the country you've been trying to become the dictator of remains firm against you, what do you do?

Well if you are Manuel Zelaya, you blame someone. Do you blame the opposition that tossed you out? Too easy. So who do you blame?

The Jews of course.

Apparently, Israeli mercenaries, when they are not leading the troops ousting him, are torturing him with high-frequency radiation.


Thursday, October 01, 2009

So Is This My Problem?

The answer is most likely, and emphatically, a resounding: YES.

And yet, it is how I feel.

What am I talking about?

Let's back up and explain a bit. I belong to an organization. Except, that it is not an organization, at least according to the agreed upon rules, that I am supposed to admit belonging to. Why? Because they are afraid that they will get their collective files subpoenaed and used in court. Which is fairly ludicrous because if someone wanted to subpoena all the stuff that gets mentioned on its list-serv, what they would find are dicussions about a particular area of law. Occasionally some nasty comments are made, but really, they are not actionable (remember, truth is a defense).

However, recently they have been having this thread about psuedonyms which are used by some of the members in their emails. And how that is a VERBOTEN! "If ve do not haf your true identification, with a blood oath with each email, ve cannot verify that the emails hast orriginated from you!"

So what is my problem? Its stupid bureaucracy. Bureaucracy that favors form over functionality. I swear the people who run this particular organization take themselves far, far too seriously. Not to mention the fact that they apply the rules to everyone, but never to themselves because they can always justify their actions with some exception they've created out of whole-cloth.

So right now, I'm working my way to getting expelled I think, because I'm objecting to this whole thing. It's stupid. It's been used against me in the past (even though my emails originally had my initials in them, were always signed by real name - unlike many of the others - and were clearly linked to me).

I fracking hate people like that. Its like a red flag to a bull.